Blessing of Animals at St. Hugh’s

Therefore, open your eyes, alert the ears of your spirit, open your lips and apply your heart so that in all creatures you may see, hear, praise, love and worship, glorify and honor your God. ~St. Bonaventure (13th century)

Do you have a special bond with your pet? Does your child or grandchild delight in the presence and company of your dog, your cat, your horse, your Iguana? As you come home from work or play: is your pet there to greet you (sometimes with a wagging tail or a sloppy kiss)? Then, come celebrate their presence in your life in a Blessing of the Animals at St. Hugh’s Episcopal Church on Saturday, October 7, 2017, at 9:00am.

We’ll gather outdoors on our Labyrinth. Please provide for the safety of your animals (dogs on leashes, cats, and smaller pets in carriers, birds in cages and so on). All pets are welcome. Even a Teddy Bear or other stuffed animal that “speaks” of a mutual love among creatures will be blessed for those children who want to present their special friend for a blessing. Pictures of beloved pets who don’t travel well are also welcome. It’s a celebration of the diversity of life and the lessons of love learned from our animal companions. All are welcome, you (and your animal companion) are invited.

2017 Animal Blessing

September is National Preparedness Month

Feeling prepared for a situation – be it a job interview, a new baby or a sudden disaster – not only helps us experience less fear and anxiety, but can actually improve how things go. The three most important things you can do to prepare for a disaster are to make a plan, be informed and get a kit.

2017 National Preparedness Month

As our own Episcopal Relief & Development Fund (ERD) works to respond, recover, and rebuild with local partners after Hurricane Harvey, so, too, do they encourage us to be prepared.

Visit the ERD Page US Disaster Program Preparedness Resources. Once there, follow up by evaluating and improving your preparedness for disasters of all kinds.

Thanksgiving for Work on Labor Day

Pause on Labor Day and give thanks for those who work to make your life better.

 

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This litany, “Thanksgiving for Work,” is intended for the use of our Members and Friends as a way of honoring those whose work has blessed our lives. View or download the litany here.

 

HURRICANE HARVEY 2017: WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

For those of us observing [Hurricane Harvey and every disaster] and praying from afar, it’s important to remember that [our response] is a marathon and not a sprint. In addition, the tricky part is responding in a way that is timely and appropriate. Understanding the phases of a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.

Flooded home after Hurricane Harvey

This originally appeared as an ERD blog post by Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development, August 2017.

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Starting on Sunday, as the scope and devastation of Hurricane Harvey became apparent, my email box began to fill with some version of: “What can I do to help?” I praise God for these emails.

When we see images of people suffering, we want to do something. That’s understandable. As Christians, we are called to seek and serve Christ in all people and never more so than in times of crisis.

For those still in the midst of the disaster, please follow the advice of your local authorities. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, you won’t be able to help anyone else later on.

For those of us observing and praying from afar, it’s important to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. In addition, the tricky part is responding in a way that is timely and appropriate. Understanding the phases of a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.

Most disasters have three distinct, if sometimes overlapping phases: Rescue, Relief and Recovery.

Phase 1 – Rescue

The Rescue phase is focused on saving lives and securing property, and is most acute in those parts of a region that are directly flooded. Police, fire departments and other government agencies are best able to do this work. They have equipment that can clear roads and debris and find people. The Rescue phase can take one to two weeks, sometimes longer.

In the case of Harvey, the disaster hasn’t yet stopped and so the Rescue phase is taking place in the midst of the crisis. It can be heartbreaking to watch, I know. However, I urge all of us to be patient. Please pray for those who are suffering as a result of this tragedy and for the professionals who are risking their lives to save others.

Phase 2 – Relief

The next is the Relief phase. We and our partners began preparing for this phase as soon as it was clear how massive Harvey was going to be. During this phase, the local church will be one of the first places people go to seek assistance and shelter. Because they are prepared and experienced in disaster response, we know that our partners in Texas and elsewhere will be active in the Relief phase. This is where Episcopal Relief & Development is focusing its resources right now.

Phase 3 – Recovery

Eventually, we get to the third and final phase: Recovery. During this period, the emphasis shifts to restoring services, repairing houses and buildings, returning individuals to self-sufficiency and rebuilding communities. The challenge of the Recovery phase is that most of the television cameras have moved on, but the human suffering has grown. It is a chronic state, not a crisis. However, it is the phase that the Church excels in, because we are part of the communities that have been impacted and can best identify needs and work with the community to address them efficiently.

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So, in light of the above, let me offer the following advice about how you can help:

Financial Support

Now is the time to offer financial support. Contributing to Episcopal Relief & Development will ensure that we have enough resources to support the work of our church partners as they serve the most vulnerable in their communities.  They are best positioned to assess needs and timing for response efforts.

One of the immediate ways Episcopal Relief & Development and our partners help individuals is by handing out gift cards to local stores so that people can choose what they need the most. It not only affords people dignity it also helps stimulate the local economy, which needs to recover post-disaster. Learn about the other ways we assist during the three R’s of disaster here.

Volunteering

The best approach is to wait until those affected have indicated what kind of support is most needed and whether they are ready to house and utilize volunteers. Inserting ourselves at the appropriate time alleviates additional stress and complications that can actually make things worse. If you think you would like to volunteer please register with Episcopal Relief & Development’s Ready to Serve database. This list of volunteers will be shared with the impacted dioceses once they are ready to use and support volunteers. They will contact you if and when they need help.

Donating Goods

My firm recommendation is DON’T DO IT. I can’t tell you how many piles of discarded clothing I saw in parking lots throughout the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. After major disasters, diocesan staff have limited capacity to receive, store or distribute donated goods. Here’s a great article about the challenges of communities receiving donated goods: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168946170/thanks-but-no-thanks-when-post-disaster-donations-overwhelm

An effective response requires us to discern what is most helpful and appropriate at any given time. Let’s continue to hold those directly impacted in our hearts and prayers throughout their recovery, long after the media images fade.


Donate to our Hurricane Harvey Response FundYour generous support will supply critical necessities for communities immediately and for the long-term as they recover and rebuild.

 


 

8dad5a6b477e9c5fd2364df163af6559  Rob Radtke is the President of Episcopal Relief & Development.

Feature Image: Home submerged in floods. Photo by Tara Quick in the original blog post.

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Giving thanks for the smallest blessings

Here is the August 29th letter from Bishop Katharine inviting our response to those in need after Hurricane Harvey and flooding …

Logo for the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego

August 29, 2017

My sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, A wise person once noted that the most significant prayers are “Help!” and “Thank you!” The people of Texas and Louisiana are praying for help amid the deluge, and giving thanks for the smallest blessings – even a pair of dry socks. We can answer those prayers, both by remembering their plight in our prayers, and by donating to Episcopal Relief & Development, which is poised to steer funds to the dioceses in the region right away. In coming weeks and months there will be abundant opportunity to assist in cleanup and rebuilding. Remember Katrina (and Wilma and Rita, which added to the disaster)? The aftermath of Harvey will be a similarly extended season of opportunity to demonstrate our love for neighbors.

Pray without ceasing, give what you can, and start thinking about how we in this diocese might offer our labor for healing and restoration.

Shalom,
+Katharine
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori Assisting Bishop

Click here to contribute to the efforts of ERD to respond to and help with recovery and rebuilding in the areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.

Just hang up

If A Telemarketer Or Robocall Asks “Can You Hear Me?” Just Hang Up; It’s A Scam

Older woman on the phone

If A Telemarketer Or Robocall Asks “Can You Hear Me?” Just Hang Up; It’s A Scam” was originally posted on Consumerist.

Begin quoteIt’s a bad idea to ever use the word “yes” when talking to any telemarketer, but with the latest version of an old scam, saying “yes” can quite literally come back to haunt you.

Here’s how the scam works: you may receive a phone call from an automated system (a robocall) or a live person, but the common thread will be that the caller will ask, “Can you hear me?”

“Yes,” you respond, because you heard the question. Now, according to police departments across the country, that means that the scammers now have a recording of your voice saying “yes.”

Please keep reading, there’s more

‘Don’t be afraid to be people of love,’ presiding bishop tells Pittsburgh revival

Don’t be afraid to take the love of Jesus into the world.

Scallop shell with red cross: be evangelists on your pilgrimage

Note: The post “Don’t b afraid to be people of love” appeared first on Episcopal News Service (ENS)

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Editor’s note: A photo gallery of scenes from the Pittsburgh revival is here.

[Episcopal News Service – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] The old church tradition of the revival received new life in the Diocese of Pittsburgh Feb. 3-5 with a distinctly Episcopal feel.

The emphasis was on both sparking individuals’ faith lives and a commitment to show the love of Jesus beyond the four walls of their churches. Anchoring Episcopal revivals in the needs of the world was a constant theme of the weekend.

“Episcopal Church, we need you to follow Jesus. We need you to be the countercultural people of God who would love one another, who would care when others could care less, who would give, not take,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said during his Feb. 5 sermon at Calvary Episcopal Church in the Shadyside neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

For those who think the words Episcopal and revival don’t go together, the size of the crowds, the depth of their emotion and Curry’s insistence begged to differ.

His prayer for this and subsequent revivals, he said during one of his four sermons, is that they will be the beginning of “a way of new life for us as this wonderful Episcopal Church, bearing witness to the love of God in Jesus in this culture and in this particular time in our national history.”

Curry’s Pilgrimage for Reconciliation, Healing and Evangelism in Southwestern Pennsylvania is the first of six revivals being planned with diocesan teams in different cities around the country and the world this year and in 2018.

“I want to suggest this morning that we need a revival inside the church and out – not just in the Episcopal Church. For there is much that seeks to articulate itself as Christianity that doesn’t look anything like Jesus,” Curry said in his Feb. 4 sermon during an Absalom Jones Day Eucharist at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Cross. “And if it doesn’t walk and talk and look and smell like Jesus, it’s not Christian … and if it’s going to look like Jesus, it’s got to look like love.”

Curry said the revival of the church, centered in God’s love, is not about a church rejuvenated for its own sake. The church’s revival must spill God’s love out into the world “until justice rolls down like a mighty stream,” he said, echoing Micah.

Marianne Novy, foreground, and John Welch pray together Feb. 3 in Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Hicks Chapel after a sermon in which Presiding Bishop Michael Curry called for Episcopalians to help heal the world’s divides. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

To do that, a revival must channel the emotions of the moment toward something bigger and lasting, Curry said during a news conference. “It is about claiming new and authentic and genuine life. That’s true for our nation, true for our world. We must find better ways to live together, to care for each other, to care for our society and to care for our global communities,” he said.

“We who are followers of Jesus believe that the way of love and the way of Jesus is the key to doing that. But, we join hands with people of other faiths and people of goodwill – anyone who wants to help us end what so often is a nightmare of poverty and injustice and bigotry and wrong and violence, and realize God’s dream of true harmony and peace and justice for everybody.”

The six revivals will vary in design, according to a recent press release, but most will be multiday events that feature dynamic worship and preaching, offerings from local artists and musicians, personal testimony and storytelling, speakers, invitations to local social action, engagement with young leaders, and intentional outreach with people who aren’t active in a faith community. Pittsburgh Episcopalians were encouraged to bring with them neighbors who were not part of a faith community.

The next five revivals are:
May 5-7: Diocese of West Missouri
Sept. 23-24: Diocese of Georgia
Nov. 17-19: Diocese of San Joaquin (California)
April 6-8, 2018: Diocese of Honduras
July 2018: Joint Evangelism Mission with the Church of England

The Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation, is organizing those efforts, along with a team including Consulting Evangelist for Revivals Carrie Headington and Evangelism Associate Emily Gallagher. The planning for each begins with asking diocesan members what the good news of Jesus looks like in their communities. Pittsburgh Episcopalians discerned that the good news would help them cross the divides of their area, build relationships with neighbors of different traditions and start reconciling with each other, Spellers said during the news conference. Thus, that was the theme of the Pittsburgh gathering.

She and others will return to the dioceses after the revivals to work with Episcopalians to cultivate a group of leaders who have new abilities, new relationships and a new common purpose to further enact Jesus’ love in their communities.

“Hopefully, Pittsburgh – not just the diocese but the city and surrounding communities – will look different. And they’ll feel like there was a church that showed up, not only to talk about good news but to be good news,” she said, describing the hoped-for outcome.  Episcopalians will understand that they have grown into being new leaders of the Jesus Movement, she added.

Curry’s call for reconciliation and healing first rang out Feb. 3 during the opening event, an ecumenical service of repentance and reconciliation at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Hicks Chapel.

“I am more and more convinced that Jesus came among us to show us how to become more than simply the human race,” Curry said. “He came to show us how to become the human family of God. And, my brothers and my sisters, in that is our hope and in that is our calling.”

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaches Feb. 3 at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

God is calling Christians to a deep and radical sense of repentance, Curry said. The world needs such a manifestation of Christianity, he contended, because it will lead to a desperately needed reconciliation among a litany of ethnic groups and even among “red folk and blue folk,” referring to the nation’s political divisions. Finding ways for Republicans and Democrats to discover common ground echoed through Curry’s sermons.

The congregation greeted Curry’s words at the seminary with murmurings of assent, shouts of agreement and, soon, drum rolls and keyboard riffs from the Rodman Street Missionary Baptist Church choir, whose members also sang during the service. That audience participation was hallmark of all four of Curry’s sermons during the weekend and it included the presiding bishop leading every congregation in song.

Curry sounded a theme that would echo throughout the weekend: Christians must be people of compassion, people of goodwill, people who dare to live the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus’ words in the Matthew 25:31-46. For instance, he said, people setting social policy or enacting legislation ought to measure it by the core Christian value of “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Twelve leaders and senior pastors from local Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant and African-American churches gathered with elected and civic leaders and members of the Diocese of Pittsburgh for the service that many called a historic commitment to ecumenical conversation. The revival began with a revival of the clergy’s commitment to their ministry. Roman Catholic Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik began a 10-part confession based on the Church of Scotland’s Ministerial Challenge of 1671, lamenting clergy’s attention to the business and accolades of the world. “We have been unfaithful to our own souls, and to our sisters and brothers; unfaithful in the pulpit, in fellowship, in discipline, in the Church,” Zubik said.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry makes the rounds in the undercroft of Church of the Holy Cross during a Feb. 4 breakfast meeting with youth of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Curry met the next morning with some of the youth of the diocese at Holy Cross in the struggling Homewood West neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Telling them that they were growing up in a time of complex change, he said technological progress is important but “progress as a way of love, progress in living, progress in learning how to live together in all of our differences and varieties may be the ultimate progress that will make the difference for us all.”

After the breakfast meeting, Curry went upstairs for a rousing Absalom Jones Day Eucharist in the packed nave. During his sermon, the presiding bishop continued his call for Christians to act out of the selfless love exemplified by Jesus on the cross rather than “unenlightened self-interest.”

Saying that the “way of love can save us all,” Curry asked the congregation to imagine how legislatures, corporate board rooms, schools and health care in America would be different if they were approached “not by what I can get out of it but how it serves the common good.”

“We are talking about a revolution of values,” he said, having left the pulpit to preach from the center aisle. “Revival means to give life; it’s resurrection. Imagine our country, imagine what we would say to the immigrant and refugee, imagine what American would say to the rest of the world, imagine what the rest of the world would say to us if that way of love became our way.”

Absalom Jones, the first African-American ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church, looks down above a black Jesus in a mural painted on the wall of the side chapel at Church of the Holy Cross in the Homewood West section of Pittsburgh. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Heading to the end of his sermon Curry told the congregation: “Don’t be afraid to be people of love. Don’t be afraid to stand up for the name of Jesus. Don’t be afraid to reclaim this faith again. And don’t you be ashamed to be an Episcopalian.”

As an Episcopal sort of altar call, Curry invited people to sing “There Is a Balm in Gilead” in which Christians are told that it does not matter if they are not good at preaching or praying. Instead, they should simply tell someone else about the love of Jesus. “As we sing, in your own way I invite you to recommit – or commit – yourself to following the way of Jesus, to being a part of his movement in this world,” the presiding bishop said.

Video of the entire Eucharist is here. The presiding bishop’s sermon begins at the 22-minute, 6-second mark.

Curry returned to Pittsburgh Theological Seminary that afternoon to welcome Episcopalians and others from across the diocese for a conversation billed as “Bridging Divides and Healing Communities” and aimed at beginning to form relationships among individuals and churches in hopes that they can work together to address hopelessness, poverty and addiction in local communities.

Kim Karashin, Pittsburgh’s canon for mission, told Episcopal News Service before the conversations began that the “best case scenario” for the gathering would be that people agree to meet again to talk about these issues but that this gathering was about getting to know each other. “We’re not going to move the needle without building relationships,” she said.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry listens Feb. 4 as Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto praises the Episcopal Church’s efforts to build bridges across the city’s divided neighborhoods. The mayor spoke at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary before a conversation aimed at forming relationships among individuals and churches in hopes that they can work together to address hopelessness, poverty and addiction in local communities. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, who joined in welcoming people to the conversation, said later during the news conference that Pittsburgh is a divided community needing this sort of training in conversation to cultivate leaders who can step in during emergencies and try to move people into productive ways of acting.

“Pulling a community together only happens with things like this,” he said. “You have to be pro-active; you can’t wait until something happens. It’s taking these actions that will help build those bridges that we speak about.”

The last day of the Pittsburgh revival featured two Eucharists: the first at Calvary Episcopal Church, and the second 40 minutes away at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, McKeesport, in the economically struggling Monongahela River Valley south of Pittsburgh. Representatives of nearly three dozen Episcopal congregations gathered at St. Stephen’s to support “The Mon Valley Mission,” which is a new effort to revive the faith and well-being of the river communities.

Curry used the morning’s gospel story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well to tell the McKeesport congregation that God pushes people to build bridges between people who society says are enemies. In their conversations at the well, Curry said, both Jesus and the Samaritan woman learn something about each other and themselves. Moreover, the woman discovered within her the image of God and she experienced the love of God as being active in her life, he said.

Then, Curry said, she became “the first evangelist in the New Testament” when she told her neighbors what happened at the well with Jesus.

Each person at St. Stephen’s received a small scallop shell with a red cross painted on it, an ancient symbol of pilgrims, to symbolize their pilgrimage to take the good news of Jesus into the world. The service ended with Curry commissioning all 320 people in attendance to be disciples sharing the good news of Jesus.

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor and reporter for the Episcopal News Service.

Continue reading “‘Don’t be afraid to be people of love,’ presiding bishop tells Pittsburgh revival”